’13 Reasons Why’ Netflix Series Linked To Suicide-Related Internet Searches

August 2, 2017
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Netflix’s series “13 Reasons Why” has caused controversial debate among mental health advocates due to its depiction of teen suicide.

And now, new research suggests that critics’ concerns may be well-founded.

The series is associated with a rise in suicide-related internet searches, says a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers used Google Trends to collate data on U.S. internet searches with the word “suicide” in them, but excluded those containing the word “squad” because of the unrelated “Suicide Squad” film. They also used historical search trends to compare post-series suicide search frequency to a hypothetical present-day situation where “13 Reasons Why” was never released.

These searches took place between March 31, 2017 – which is the date that the series premiered – and April 18.

Researchers focused on these dates because of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s suicide, which happened on April 19, which could have also affected trends.

Searches for “suicide” were 19 percent higher than expected during this period.

In some part, it had to do with larger-than-anticipated numbers for searches like “suicide hotline” and “suicide prevention,” which were 12 percent and 23 percent higher respectively. However, the crux of the issue lies in the uptick in phrases such as “how to commit suicide,” which were up by 26 percent.

If you haven’t watched it yet, “13 Reasons Why” is the story of high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide and all the people who played a part in it. The show’s finale features her suicide in a graphic scene.

The Washington Post reported that hundreds of U.S. school superintendents sent parents warnings about the show’s potentially damaging effect on children’s mental health and the risk of suicide contagion. For people ages 10- to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

The series will be returning for a second season on Netflix in 2018.

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